P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Chances of  mid-term poll bleak: Badal
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, October 12
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today expressed bleak chances of mid-term Lok Sabha polls under the prevailing political scenario at the Centre. He, however, said his party was ready to face elections at a notice of 5 minutes only.

The Chief Minister had come for a sangat darshan programme. He said the SAD-BJP combine was strong as a rock and there were no differences, as both partners were having good relations. He described a separate meeting of Punjab BJP leaders with the Central leadership of the BJP as internal matter of the party.

He said a grant of Rs 9 crore had been released for the development of Fazilka area so far.

On the Bhankerpur distillery being set up at Ghallu village of Fazilka subdivision, which was strongly opposed by the SAD-BJP combine in the pre-Assembly poll scenario in Punjab, and grant of no-objection certificate to it, Badal feigned ignorance over the issue.

Regarding district headquarters status to Fazilka, he tried to parry the question, but said he would consider setting up some offices like additional deputy commissioner, SP and Additional District and Sessions Judge in Fazilka after deliberations with the local MLA.

Earlier, addressing the sangat darshan programme, he said a comprehensive scheme had been worked out for providing pure drinking water in the Malwa area with the help of World Bank. He said Rs 1,280 crore would be spent on this scheme and on the commencement of this project, every villager would get 70 litres of pure drinking water per day. The Chief Minister said he was aware that people of the Malwa belt had been suffering from deadly disease of cancer and jaundice due to impure water.

He said a model adarsh school would be set up in the Fazilka constituency at a cost of Rs 3 crore for imparting free standard education to children.

Local BJP MLA Surjit Kumar Jyani presented a demands charter, which included Rs 4.5 crore for canal base drinking water scheme, upgradation of local Civil Hospital, providing adequate lecturer staff for Government M.R.College, agro-based thermal plant, payment of balances to farmers who had provided sugarcane to Fazilka co-operative sugar mills and conversion of non-perennial canals of Fazilka to perennial ones.


Amarinder in Dubai
Says Badals wasting money to settle scores
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 12
While the government was trying to stop former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh from leaving the country by moving the Supreme Court, he has already left the country.

He is presently in Dubai and is likely to return to the country on November 11.

Talking to The Tribune, he expressed happiness at the Supreme Court decision at disallowing the government plea against allowing him to move out of the country for medical treatment.

The government’s restlessness in vehemently opposing his foreign trips for medical treatment is just steam being let out by Badals at not finding any concrete evidence against me, Amarinder alleged.

The Badals are launching a propaganda to defame me in public. Every now and then, a person associated with the government during my stint in office is arrested. Just hours within the persons are arrested, this information is leaked to a select group of mediapersons.

The revelations are cooked-up stories of Vigilance that are fed into the mouth of the accused officials and who are being browbeaten to accept the statements dictated by the Vigilance.

He said the Badals were wasting money of the state exchequer in opposing his foreign trips in courts. They are doing so due to personal prejudice. I have not committed any such offence for which they might have to seek my extradition if I do not return to the country.

My entire ancestral property and family is in India. Moreover, I have been allowed to go abroad for medical treatment only against the surety bonds submitted by the court.

Badals are just trying to make media hype by moving various courts against me on frivolous grounds. They should rather concentrate on the development of the state than follow me on one pretext or the other.

People of the state are reeling under many problems that deserve the attention of the government, he said.

When asked about his return to the country, Capt Amarinder Singh said he would be returning next month.


Dimpa’s brother claims having original CD
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 12
Harpinder Singh Gill, alias Rajan, brother of former Congress MLA, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, who had been charged with violence resulting in the death of an Akali worker on the eve of the Beas assembly elections, here today claimed that he was in possession of the original CD of the incidents and would produce it in the trial court.

Talking to The Tribune outside the Amritsar Central Jail immediately after his release on bail, Harpinder Gill said the authenticity of the CD, furnished by the SAD, was yet to be proved and the Election Commission seemed to have given its ruling on the CD in a haste, without establishing its genuineness. He added that there was no truth in the assertion of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that the case registered against him and his brother, Dimpa, was registered during the Congress regime.

“The special investigation team (SIT) that looked into the charges had absolved four of the accused, including Dimpa, of the charges out of the total nine accused identified by the police. However, after coming to power, the Badal government named 45 people in the case, overlooking the report of the previous investigation. This is sheer political vendetta,” he said.

“A cross case has been registered and the CD in our possession would bring out the truth during the trial. It is the SAD workers who had mobbed our office,” he alleged.

The CD in question shows Dimpa allegedly guiding the attack on Akali workers and his younger brother, Rajan, a transporter, loading and firing from the prohibited AK- 47 assault rifle in front of the election office of the Congress candidate at Beas.

The video became an election issue after it was played in the presence of Sukhbir Singh Badal, acting president of SAD, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Amritsar MP, and Manjinder Singh Kang, Akali candidate from Beas. The video clipping also shows the official gunmen of the Congress leaders firing rounds. However, Rajan had given a signed statement alleging that the video clip was “doctored”.

He alleged that the SAD worker killed on January 29, 2007, in a clash between Congress and SAD workers, was actually killed by a bullet fired by the SAD supporters. “We would now approach the central government to demand a CBI inquiry into the incident so that a case could be registered against Kang, the SAD candidate, who eventually won the election,” he said.


Flood-hit farmers get peanuts in aid
Prabhjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, October 12
After facing 100 per cent crop loss due to water logging on his three acres, Buta Singh of Chak Atari Sadarwala village was assured by the authorities concerned of a monetary compensation at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acre. But, later, he was the administration informed him that his name was not on the list of claimants of compensation or beneficiaries.

With many such cases in Muktsar subdivision being reported, the administration has been facing the charges of mocking at the affected farmers by issuing them the compensatory cheques of amounts as low as Rs 125 only.

Baljinder Singh, another farmer of Sadarwala village, has been issued a cheque for Rs 206 only for the damage of crop on his waterlogged five acres. When he went to the bank to encash the account-payee cheque, he was asked to open an account with a minimum deposit of Rs 1500.

A farmer, who got a cheque worth Rs 260 for 100 per cent cotton crop loss on his three acres, said he would have to take another loan from arhtiya (private money lender) for buying fertiliser so that he could sow wheat in the ensuing rabi season.

Muktsar deputy commissioner Vikas Garg and subdivisional magistrate Basant Garg have different stories in the form of clarifications.

“Actually some land holdings are in the name of more than one persons, even 10 persons, and so the compensation is divided into 10 equal amounts in such cases,” the deputy commissioner stated, claiming that there was no single case with less compensation.

But, the farmers, who got the cheques of compensation for negligible amounts, said their respective land holdings were in their names only.

On the other hand, the SDM maintained that certain calamity-affected land holdings were given on contract farming by the actual owners and, thus, the compensation money was disbursed as per the land revenue records available. “The actual claimant, that is, the cultivator, does not come forward,” he said.

The official, however, did not clarify whether the compensation was duly given to the landowners only and not the one who was tilling the land on contract. 


N-plant not feasible in state: Secy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 12
Punjab is too densely populated to have a nuclear power plant. Since no feasible place has been found to set up a nuclear power plant in the state, the government will urge the union government to give it a share of power from the nuclear power plant coming up in Rajasthan. Chief secretary of the state Ramesh Inder Singh stated this while talking to newsmen here today.

The statement of the chief secretary has once again indicated to differences among various government authorities over having a nuclear power plant in the state.

Senior ministers, including minister for cooperatives Kanwaljit Singh and minister for finance Manpreet Badal, have already expressed their views in favour of setting up a nuclear power plant in the state. The chief secretary, along with principal secretary to Chief Minister D.S. Guru, was here to inspect the procurement of paddy. Though the visit was supposed to be a surprised inspection, the district administration already had the information regarding it.

The Chief Secretary told The Tribune that till date 45 lakh metric tones of paddy had been procured in various mandis of the state. Private players had once again played a major share in procurement. They had procured 37 per cent of paddy produce arrived in the mandis till date.

He ruled out the possibility of the state government paying any bonus to farmers. The union government had already announced a bonus of Rs 50 for paddy farmers. Since all produce went to the union government, the state cannot pay a bonus, he added.


Sukhbir for all-party meet on N-deal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 12
The central government should call an all-party meeting before taking any decision on the nuclear deal. Stating this, acting president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal said his party would take any decision on the matter only after a meeting of the party’s high command. Any decision on the matter should reflect the popular sentiments, he added.

Regarding the differences with the BJP, Badal said the relationship was deeper and extended beyond the sharing of power. The SAD leader, who was on a private visit to the city, denied that he was in contention for the post of the Chief Minister of Punjab.

About the fall in cotton prices, he said the centre should fix it at Rs 2,800 per quintal. He criticised the Congress for allegedly discriminating against Punjab.

He warned the central government that if it made no efforts to save the cotton crop in Punjab, then the farmers would stop selling narma.


Students picking cotton in Rajasthan
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 12
Many government schools in villages of the district are witnessing an absence of children on a large scale. These children, mostly of labourers, are learnt to be busy with their parents picking cotton in Rajasthan.

A visit to some of the schools revealed that as many as 15 students had gone along with their parents to pick cotton in Khemuana village. Some of these children are in senior classes. The scene was similar in government schools in Deon, Janda Wala and Jeeda villages of the district.

“Students belonging to the labour class remain absent from the school for about three months. Then, they have problems in making up the loss in studies and many of them fail in the examination,” said Resham Singh, a teacher at the government school at Janda Wala.

Some social welfare organisations have come forward to arrange for tuitions for the children of these labourers.

General secretary of the District Teachers’ Union, Gurpreet Singh, said, “Students and their parents must think about their future. It is one of the reasons why government schools lag behind private schools.”

District education officer Gurudev Singh Gill said special efforts would be made for the education of these children. 


MLA’s plea on village ponds
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 12
Congress MLA Sunil Jakhar today urged the state government to take steps to remove encroachments on traditional ponds in villages.

He appreciated the initiative taken by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in endorsing the “Revive traditional ponds” plan of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

He was speaking as chief guest at a seminar on “Soil health and water management” organised jointly by IFFCO and KRIBHCO at Maujgarh village, near here, today. Endorsing the warning given by PAU scientists S.S. Bhukkal and B.S. Benipal, the MLA said drip and sprinkle irrigation systems were the only answer to the water crisis.

IFFCO chairman Surinder Kumar Jakhar and PAU scientists exhorted farmers to get their soil tested and manage water properly.

Cheques on behalf of IFFCO Tokio Insurance Co. and IFFCO Kisan Sewa Trust were presented to farming families at the function. IFFCO joint GM Pritam Singh Sidhu and KRIBHCO SMM B.S. Brar also addressed the gathering. Area managers Amarjit Singh and G.S. Cheema were among those honoured by the chief guest.


Panel awaits funds for office building
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
Even though the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has purchased a piece of land worth Rs 85 lakh for its office building in 1998, it is still functioning from a shop-cum-office in Sector 22 here.

Thanks to the callous attitude of the state and central governments, the commission still awaits funds to raise the office.

The commission has written several letters to the centre regarding the utilisation of the one-time grant given to it in 1998. While the Haryana Consumer Redressal Commission and the UT Commission have set up their own office buildings, the Punjab commission continues to face the neglect of the state and central governments.

According to records, both governments are stuck on the issue of releasing funds. The land for the office was purchased in Sector 37, near Law Bhavan, with the funds from the one-time grant of Rs 1 crore released by the centre. The payments for the piece of land included an amount given by the state government. The centre has been asking the commission for the utilisation certificate of the one-time grant. Though the certificate has been supplied to it by the commission, it has failed to satisfy the union government.

In a letter to the commission, the centre has told it the utilisation of the remaining Rs 16 lakh (out of the grant of Rs 1 crore) has not been mentioned in the utilisation certificate.

According to sources, the centre had agreed to release funds for the office building while the state decided to pay for the land. But, the land was purchased from the funds released by the centre.

The state government asked the commission in 1999 if they had sought the permission of the centre before purchasing the land from the one-time grant.

Meanwhile, the state government suggested to the commission to surrender the plot. With prices of property hitting the roof, the present cost of the piece of land is around Rs 20 crore.


Aggarsain Jayanti celebrated 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 12
On the occasion of Aggarsain Jayanti today, local Aggarwals urged the Punjab government to set up a chair in the name of Maharaja Aggarsain, the founder of the Aggarwal community, in a university of the state. They also asked the union government to issue Rs 10 coins, carrying the picture of Maharaja Aggarsain, and declare a holiday at the national level every year on Aggarsain Jayanti.

Vice-president of the local Aggarwal Sabha Pawan Kumar Gupta said here today that the Aggarwals also demanded from the government to construct Maharaja Aggarsain bhawans at all district headquarters.

Meanwhile, the sabha celebrated Aggarsain Jayanti at the Aggarwal dharamshala here. It also took out a prabhat pheri, and hoisted a flag of Maharaja Aggarsain. The sabha members also garlanded the statue of Maharaja Aggarsain, installed at the Barra Chowk here. It also organised a free medical check-up camp at the Aggarwal dharamshala. 


Cremation of Gurjant’s daughter delayed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 12
The body of Veerpal Kaur, daughter of Gurjant Singh, could not be brought to Behman Jassa Singh village as the postmortem examination of the body was not carried out today.

Jagjit Singh Joga, a CPI leader and member of the action committee formed to fight for the rights of Gurjant Singh’s family, said the postmortem would now be carried out tomorrow and the body was expected to reach the village late in the afternoon.

He informed that if Veerpal’s body reached the village late in the evening, then the cremation would be held on Sunday. 


Durga Puja begins
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 12
With the ‘kalash sthapana’ taking place at several puja pandals and temples across the district, the 10-day Durga Puja festival began with traditional fervour and gaiety.

Devotees of Goddess Durga thronged the puja venues since early morning on the first day of Navratra today.

Residents of the National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) Colony, Bathinda, who have been celebrating the festival for more than 25 years with pomp and style, took part in the ‘kalash sthapana’ and ‘prabhat pheri’ on the first day of the festival.

Working president of the Shri Durga Puja and Dussehra Committee, NFL Colony Swapan Kumar Das said the committee would organise several programmes.


Encroachers on government land in soup
Admn waits for guidelines to take action 
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 12
Having encroached upon government land, around 30 households in this subdivisional headquarters of the district are facing an uncertain future as the state government has ordered an inquiry into the alleged illegal occupancy of the land that belonged to the state rehabilitation department.

People from different walks of life built their houses on a prime piece of land adjoining model town, about 15 to 20 years back. A portion of the land that had been allotted to people, who had come here after the 1947 Indo-Pak partition, had been lying vacant for a long time.

About two decades back, the government had reportedly planned to allot this vacant space for construction of houses. It was learnt that some of the aspirants even deposited the requisite amount while seeking the allotment of land in their name. However, later due to some reasons, the plan was scrapped. However, those who had deposited the amount allegedly started building up houses even as land had not been allotted to them.

As the local administration did not take notice of the encroachments, about 50 acres of the prime land was occupied by the locals. Some local residents of model town said the encroachers even constructed houses on several roads connecting model town with Khanna town.

As the matter was brought to the notice of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, he recently asked the district administration to inquire into the matter so that appropriate action could be taken in this regard.

Following this the local administration got a report prepared by the revenue department regarding the alleged encroachments. SDM Bhupinder Singh Gill said the matter was under consideration. He said the report had been sent to the state government and the administration was waiting for clear-cut guidelines to initiate action against them. He, however, said in case the government decided, the land could be transferred in the name of the occupants provided it was feasible under the law. 


5 polytechnics for Punjab soon
Tribune News Service

Kharar, October 12
Five new government polytechnic colleges are soon to come up in Punjab. The minister for technical education and industrial training minister Chaudhary Swarna Ram said this here today.

Swarna Ram was here to preside over the freshers’ party held by Doaba Institute of Engineering and Technology (DIET). He added that three of these colleges have been given permission and four of them would be situated in the border districts of Punjab, in order to facilitate students of these belts to get better opportunities.

He inaugurated the ceremony by lighting a lamp and paid floral tributes to martyr Bhagat Singh.

Prominent among others present at the occasion included managing director of Doaba Group of Institutes Sukhwinder Singh Sangha, executive director Manjeet Singh, chief administrator officer Jeet Singh, director Dr S.S. Wadhwa, principal of DIET Dr H.S. Bhatti, director, college of pharmacy Dr V.J. Dhar and principal of Doaba College of Education Dr Urmila Sharma.

Students of the institute presented a cultural programme on the occasion.


Eye care for people in rural areas of Ropar
Tele-ophthalmology van services launched
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 12
Taking a step further in the field of telemedicine, the Mohali-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), a scientific society of ministry of communication and information technology, has launched a tele-ophthalmology van here today.

Slit lamp with video camera, auto-refractor, retinoscope, director ophthalmoscope—all connected to computer— have been installed in the van for transferring images to the nearest civil hospital for diagnosis, linked through wireless.

The van launched under tele-ophthalmology, a project of the health and family welfare ministry under the National Programme for Control of Blindness, will help people of remote areas, who were unable to avail the services of an ophthalmologist due to ignorance or poverty. This van will be operational in the rural areas of Ropar district, said J.S.Bhatia, director, CDAC.

CDAC has undertaken projects of customised development and implementation of telemedicine application for rural and remote areas of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

Twenty sites in Himachal Pradesh, including Keylong, Mandi, Dharmsala, Bharmour, Jhanjeli, Tissa, Shaillai, Sangra, Pooh, Chamba, Hamirpur, Kullu, Nahan, Recong Peo, Rohru, Rampur, Banjar, Karsog, and Nerwa, have already been linked to PGI Chandigarh and Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla. These are functioning properly and images are being transferred to Shimla and Chandigarh whenever needed.

Informing about telemedicine, Bahtia said it was the use of telecommunication technology to provide healthcare, where distance was a critical factor, by healthcare professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease or injuries.

All the telemedicine sites are connected through Sanjeevani, a web-based software developed by CDAC.

The Sanjeevani software is an integrated telemedicine software solution. It provides tele-diagnostic features for tele-radiology, tele-cardiology and tele-pathology.

More number of modules such as tele-diabetic, tele-nephrology, tele-dermatology were also being processed to be included in the original module to give more facilities, said the director, CDAC.

A doctor or a paramedic present on e-sites can send the data or image of a patient and the affected part through the software and can get the opinion of experts sitting at super-speciality hospitals, said Bhatia.

In Himachal 19 rural and remote locations are connected with experts at IGMC Shimla which further is connected with five premier hospitals all over India, including PGI, Chandigarh, AIIMS, Delhi, SGPGI, Lucknow, SCB Cuttak, and PGI Rohtak.

In addition to it, 25 sites are proposed to be covered in Punjab. These sites will be linked to PGI Chandigarh, said Bhatia. While five sites in Punjab will be functional shortly, the rest of the sites will be completed by 2008.


Termination of 42 disabled staff upheld
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
Justice Rajesh Bindal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday upheld the termination of 42 physically challenged employees of the Punjab Panchayat and Rural Development Department.

The department had advertised various posts for physically challenged persons on September 8, 2001, when the SAD-BJP combine were in power. The appointment letters were issued on December 18 the same year. However, after the change of government their services were terminated on August 2, 2002, on the plea that irregularities were committed in the selection. The termination was challenged before the High Court on the ground that no notice was issued to the petitioners before terminating there services. Later, the notices were issued and services terminated on March 22, 2006.


Virk moves HC for bail
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
Less than a week after a Session Court turned down his bail plea in a vigilance case, Punjab’s former Director-General of Police S.S Virk today moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for relief. His petition is expected to come up for hearing on Monday.

In his petition for grant of regular bail in an FIR registered on September 8, Virk has claimed that the case is an example of political vendetta carried out under the dictates of the present Punjab Government.

Claiming that his arrest is not a result of any tangible or reliable information, Virk has added that the state Vigilance Bureau was apparently inclined to arrest, humiliate and torture him with the intention of extracting voluntary and bogus confessions. The idea was to plant recoveries, and also to further malign his image, besides targeting specific people.

‘Form panel on admissions’

Taking up a petition filed by Muktsar-based Desh Bhagat Dental College and Hospital seeking the quashing of a letter declaring admissions of 40 students invalid, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed Baba Farid University of Health Sciences to constitute a committee.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Bench, comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Ajai Lamba, added that the committee may look into the aspect and approve students “who are proximate to merit of the last candidate admitted”.

In their detailed order, the Judges ruled, “Expect for this, we do not find any ground to interfere with the cancellation of admission. In respect of other candidates, who are not found to be proximate to the merit of the last candidate admitted, the order of cancellation of admission is upheld”.

The Judges further ruled, “Merit and transparency in admissions to professional colleges cannot be compromised with.”


Cotton fields sans yield
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 12
In the fields of Gamdoor Singh of Tungwali village in Bathinda district, cotton plants have yielded no cotton.

Gamdoor, a small-time farmer, had bought Bt cotton seed for Rs 350 per packet from Gujarat on the recommendation of a seed dealer in his area.

The fate of being cheated with spurious seeds extends to many other farmers in this cotton belt (Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Ferozepur and some parts of Faridkot and Sangrur). A majority of them feel that they have been cheated by small and big seed dealers.

Now, Mahyco Monsanto Biotech India Limited (MMB), the company which launched Bt cotton in the country, has decided to educate farmers to prevent them from falling prey to spurious seeds. Sale of spurious seeds is seen as one of the reasons why farmers in the cotton belt are losing a lot of money.

An MMB spokesman said that a company representative will remain in touch with the farmers so that they do not face such problems again.

A group of farmers from the area had met deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari on October 4 and submitted a memorandum in this regard.


Norms to check mushrooming of pvt schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
The Punjab Government is keen to put some regulations in place to check mushroom growth of unaided private public schools and to improve quality of education in them.

Sources said the authorities had written to various state governments, including Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, to send a copy of regulations if any framed by them, with regard to having some sort of check on these schools. All these schools prefer to be called public schools though many of them have poor standard of education.

Sources said such schools were coming up in various parts of the state without any check. Most of these schools have neither proper buildings, playgrounds or laboratories but they are charging heavy fees and collecting funds from students.

A large number of students were going to such schools in urban areas. Now many schools have set up their branches even in rural areas. By framing regulations, at least the government will ensure minimum standard of education in these schools apart from making them focus on allround personality development of students, said the functionary.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |